New Jersey Health Initiatives - A Better State of Health
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program
Fostering Clean and Caring Communities

On Earth Day 2017, the Morristown United for Healthy Living Coalition co-hosted a Spring Clean-Up Day with the Town of Morristown, which was a success in three important and interconnected ways…

First, the event contributed to a cleaner and more beautiful community. Just within our neighborhood (Census Tract 435), we collected over 50 large bags of trash and disposed of many larger items, like tires, furniture, and broken electronics. We walked with approximately 55 volunteers down busy sidewalks, along a local trail, around the neighborhood’s Lake Pocahontas, and got thoroughly messy for this great cause. Second, this event contributed to one of the main goals of our Coalition—fostering a sense of community. Sense of Community is that feeling of “community spirit.” It involves membership (sharing a sense of belonging, identification, and emotional safety), influence (a sense that what you do matters), the fulfillment of needs (that you get what you need from your community), and shared emotional connection (generated by the common experiences shared among neighbors). At the event, community members came together with a common goal, under a common banner. We shared our visions for the community and added a page to our shared story, bolstering our shared emotional connection. These feelings grew as over 70 community members came together after cleaning for a celebratory lunch.

Finally, these activities generated additional tangible strategies for our team. For example, several residents noted that “where there are trashcans, there isn’t any trash!” People want to live in a clean community, but just like eating healthy food, the more barriers you encounter, the less likely you are to engage in that positive behavior! As a result, we are working with Sustainable Morristown to bring additional trash and recycling receptacles to the neighborhood.

…but this is only the beginning. We know that the more time we spend together as neighbors and the more effort we put in to making this environment clean, safe, and accessible, the healthier we will be. And that’s really is what it’s all about!

For more information about the work of the North Jersey Health Collaborative in general, please visit www.njhealthmatters.org. For questions and/or to join our coalition, contact morristownunited@njhealthmatters.org.

Project
Author
Morristown United Steering Committee
Organization
North Jersey Health Collaborative